I first saw this film a little while ago under the title of The Beast. The first viewing of it I wasn't sure what to make of it. I love the stop motion and all of the special effects but something about the movie didn't catch my interest. When Criterion decided to release this on DVD with both versions of the movie and a whole lot of extras I thought I would give it another chance. I am happy I did because this was a truly fun film that paved the way for movies like Evil Dead or Phantasm.
The storyline might sound familiar. A group of four friends (2 guys, 2 girls) plan a trip to a log cabin out in the middle of nowhere. When they get there they discover the log cabin has been destroyed. After then exploring around they find a few very odd things. A random castle on a hill and a strange old man that gives them this very old book. After this they discover an invisible barrier leading to another world. Soon there are creatures that want to kill them and take the book.
A second viewing was in order. I am glad I did. I believe the version I saw, entitled The Beast, was the 1970's version. Watching the original 1967 version seemed a bit better.
The special effects in this movie are excellent. For me, I am right at home with a movie like this. The stop motion was true eye candy to watch and after you see the first monster you are pretty much in for a fun ride.
A can tell that Sam Raimi probably liked this movie when he was younger and wrote a similar story for his cult phenomenon The Evil Dead. The whole storyline with the book and a group of friends going out to a log cabin was obviously inspiration for Raimi. Even at the beginning of Evil Dead when they are showing images of the book floating in what appears to be fog was very similar to that of a scene in The Equinox when they are explaining what the purpose of the book was. A little bit of similarity with this movie and Phantasm with the portal to another world and how that other world looked upon entering it.
This movie is really a movie for fans of the stop motion genre. If you like Ray Harryhausen this is a must see. 9/10
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